Quality Sofas: What are you really paying for?

One of the questions we get asked all the time is: what goes into quality sofas? A look? A label? Quality craftsmanship? Machinery? What am I even paying for?

Before you even start scouting, there are two big questions that will take you a long way: how long do you want it to last? And, how much do you want to spend? Like with any big investment there is a wide range in price and quality of construction. For sofas specifically, there are a lot of terms used to describe the construction of a piece that will contribute to the price tag beyond the designer label. Sound overwhelming? No worries – we’ve got a quick overview of the basics broken down for you. What you will want to consider are: frame, suspension, cushions, and fabric.

Quality Sofas: Wood Frame - What are you paying for?

Quality Sofas: Wood Frame

Frames can consist of hardwood, solid wood, engineered wood, pressed wood, metal …and the list goes on. The type of frame will contribute to how long it will hold up over time, and the best frames are made of hardwood. So how do you know which is best for you? Is the price say, less than $1000? Can you lift it with one hand? It will, most likely, not be solid wood. A well crafted solid frame can easily cost $1000 all on it’s own. If you’re only looking for something cheap and quick, then the type of frame may not matter. But if you’re really interested in investing in a piece that will stand the test of time (or, say, your offensive guard son), consider the type of frame.

Quality Sofas: Springs - What are you paying for?

Quality Sofas: Springs

Next let’s look at suspension (aka the springs). There are several types like sinuous spring, inner spring, and so on. If a description includes the term “inner spring”, that is just exactly what it is…a spring on the inside. And (surprise!) not all springs are equal. Let’s start with eight way hand tied. Eight way hand tied springs known in the industry as having the best suspension for decades. The construction method consists of highly skilled craftsmen, winding heavy string through the springs in eight different directions to ensure there is no shifting over time. Technology, machinery, and heavy steel have been combined more recently to offer solutions that will last just as long, which can be found in the sinuous spring. You will pay the most for eight way hand tied and sinuous spring, but these will also last you the longest.

Quality Sofas: Foam Padding - What are you paying for?

Quality Sofas: Foam

Can’t go wrong with cushions right?? I can tell you first hand, they are not created equal. Ever had a sofa where you could tell where your “spot” was? Or the back cushions are now shaped like a bag of potato chips? Most of your basic poly foam cushions will be flat within a year. However, high density foams can last up to 15 years and still keep their form. When scouting, also look for the term channeled back. Imagine individual sections where the fiber is filled – this will prevent sagging because the fiber has no room to settle. And one more thing – cushions can also come wrapped in down or other materials, adding an extra layer of softness. Most manufacturers will have their different cushion types on the showroom floor so you can test out your perfect level of comfort.

Quality Sofas: Fabrics - What are you paying for?

Quality Sofas: Fabrics

Last but not least is fabric. Fabric can change the cost of a sofa dramatically! This holds true if you are re-upholstering as well. Fabrics can be a lengthy subject all on their own, so I’ll try to keep it basic here. Fabrics can run from $5 per yard  to $150+ per yard! So what makes a fabric so expensive? Exclusivity, designer labels, hand (aka feel), performance, durability, material, manufacturing, and whether the sofa manufacturer carries it in stock. There are fabrics that will withstand young kids and messy pets and the occasional glass of spilled red wine, and others that require a little more care. More than just an aesthetic decision, investing in the right type of fabric for your lifestyle will ensure longevity as well.

Need more insight? We’re always here to help! Comment below or send us an email to hello@catfrenchdesign.com.

Want to learn more, here are some videos on construction and techniques from a quality manufacturer.

Photo Credit: Man, Fabric,  Foam, and Springs

Catherine French Design is a team of interior design consultants based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have provided residential and commercial services in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Durham, High Point, and beyond.